Remembering the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon 40 Years Later, and a Full Review of the Action Figure Release

The 80s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon is beloved by many, and it’s about time there’s toys for it! But are they worth the price?

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon ClassicsAvailable to purchase on Hasbro Pulse

It’s tough to say if Hasbro release of the action figures for the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon was produced out of full respect for its anniversary or to say thank you for the fish. This series debuted Sept 17th, 1983 and back then, it was credited to TSR Inc. as the proprietary owners. Eventually, that company was sold to Wizards of the Coast in 1999, which in turn would later become part of this mega toy manufacturer’s family.

Just how well either company markets material that isn’t part of the game is worth researching. Here, instead of releasing these figures closer to the day of, they have been out since April 2023 with very little advertisement. I never saw anything on network television or in the pop culture online magazines I read. I knew of this product only because of industry news. As a result, the likelihood to see further products is very slim.

Older fans remember this series more so for the protagonists and chief antagonist, than for the supporting cast. They represent aspects of ourselves in different stages of personal growth. One is a natural born leader, the other a buffoon, athlete, little kid and so on. There are episodes that explore why they shouldn’t be afraid of their own shadow (“Quest of the Skeleton Warrior”) and even find love (“The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow,” and “Child of the Stargazer”). I believe that’s why we fans love this show so much.

As for how often they meet up with this world’s most despicable, there’s Warduke! He’s a popular villain who has been around longer than the animated series. And while I’m glad there’s an action figure for him and two other characters, there must be more in order to make playing with these figures relevant! As for how well articulated he is, I’m in no rush to own figures that didn’t first appear in the series.

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon Classics Hank the RangerJust how often this teenage group interacts with the other heroes and villains depends on whether they’ve in the official game canon or not. That’s recently been added to with Venger, and I’d be excited to take these action figures to the game world. Although they won’t be to scale with the traditional 32mm miniatures, to have big toys on the table can make a difference. Wizkids’ D&D Icons of The Realms: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is clearly ripping off from the cartoon, and I wouldn’t touch them with Diana’s extending quarterstaff at all.

But to fix the larger figures means updating them so they’re cartoon accurate and posable–which I’ll address in part two (that will post later today).

Released in April were Hank the Ranger, Diana the Acrobat, Bobby and Uni along with Dungeon Master & Venger. Regarding this multi-pack release, it wasn’t as widely available. As for the design, the gnome is a single mould, while his antithesis is multi-part. His separately packaged wings are challenging to install. My tip is to make Venger do arm stretches. Eventually, those slots will appear and the supports slide in.

In the August release, Sheila the Thief, Presto the Wizard and Eric the Cavalier finished the set. I particularly love the effort to make her cape turn invisible part-way, and I can’t think of how to improve upon it. However, Eric needs a new paint job!

Hopefully, Hasbro can learn from their mistakes should they decide to produce more. A common complaint expressed in many forums is the stiff joints. Also, if it was ordered online, it may arrive broken. Regarding the latter, it can be fixed with a hair dryer or hot water.

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon Classics Dice

Thankfully, anyone wondering if the dice that comes with them are worth it, my feeling is mixed. The polyhedral dice aren’t the same as the big twenty-sided one included in the Venger and Dungeon Master set. Hasbro missed the boat in not stamping the logo on the smaller die. After a few weekends of using them in game play, I can’t be too critical; I rolled a few natural 20s with this chonky die. Also, to have them in the official pouch offered during Free RPG Day 2023 makes an enormous difference.

Getting back on track, I hope more cartoon series products are planned to close out the anniversary. We need Tiamat! There’s other versions of this five-headed dragon in the market, but to have one sculpted like the cartoon must be on the wish list of every die-hard fan. Also, Venger needs his Shadow Demon lieutenant and Nightmare steed! Without them, entering The Realm of Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t feel as dangerous as the cartoon intro suggests.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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